Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Project 14: the crochet blanket


It was my birthday on 15th March and Aunty Pauline bought me a book - Simple Crochet by Erika Knight. I was delighted - Aunty Pauline can crochet and I had asked her to teach me after my slow progress earlier in the year (basically I didn't know where to start! I was like learning Mandarin Chinese, a whole new language.) She spent some time trying to show me how to crochet (for the flowers on the knitted bag, project 1) but I didn't have long enough to practice as we were only there for the day and Charlie was poorly. I had a few half hearted attempts back home watching tutorials from You Tube, but


eventually gave up.  This lovely book inspired me to pick up my needles again and - hey presto - I got it! It took a lot of concentration at first, but watching Aunty Pauline and the You Tube ladies was a real help, actually. Once I started to get the hang of it, I realised that the movements I was making "looked" right. Thank goodness for modern technology. My other big techo-revelation is It's a fabulous place. It took 7 days for my password to come through, but it has completely reawakened my passion for all things knitted and crocheted. I had become a bit despondent after the Christmas scarf-fest (10 scarves in 4 weeks).   Here is the crochet blanket to date - it's a modern Afghan (or Granny Square) and I like it because when we were children my brother and I had a "poorly blanket" crocheted in the same pattern (although it was black and multi coloured, from what I remember). The pattern is for 36 squares - a dog blanket. I have now crocheted 35, but I want it to be single bed size. I am aiming for 72, which should be about 1.5m squared (although I can change the shape of the blanket to a rectangle rather than a square by rearranging the pattern of squares, if that makes any sense)


This is a long project, I think it will take me most of the month. It's great because I can use up all sorts of bits and pieces of wool I have bought over the years and either not used, or have oddments left. I hadn't realised how much blue / neutral wool I had - must be the result of having two baby boys! I am going for a slightly faded, sea colour surfer look I think. No idea how to edge the blanket though - all colour suggestions appreciated. The kitchen still isn't finished, next week is Easter so we are hoping to do it then. I also started painting the long garden fence adjoining the veg patch as we hope to grow beans and peas up it. It's a lovely sunny spot that just isn't taken advantage of. We've also inherited an old rabbit run from Freecycle for the chickens, so we have a little more control about where they go and what they eat, whilst they still get some freedom. Dom and the boys have been busy planting seeds, some of which have already sprouted. We have a good crop of last year's perpetual spinach ready to pick, so I am planning to whip up a curry with it tomorrow night. I am really enjoying my home life at the moment. I just wish I could win the lottery and be here all the time!

Sunday, 1 March 2009

1st March 2009: Projects Four to Thirteen

Well, I have been a bad blogger and haven't been updating my blog as often as  should, sorry. It's been a tough couple of weeks and I am not really sure why. I've been very busy at work and, being a small business owner, am finding myself getting more and more concerned than ever about the economic doom that appears to be all around us. To be perfectly honest it hasn't affected us that much yet, but it has impacted on the lives of several of our friends and the idea of losing my business frightens me (although, thankfully, we're not at that stage at the moment.) In a rush of blood to the head, Dom took a sledgehammer to the kitchen! We convinced ourselves that it would take 3 - 4 days max. Why oh why do we always do this?! 2 weeks later we're still at the bloody thing, and are working 15 hour days. It's no way near done. Woe is me! Last week we all got a tummy bug, which was delightful. I've been feeling wiped out from a sort of post-viral tiredness thing so I haven't had as much energy as normal. In addition to this, the throwing up meant that I missed 3 tablets - and I have felt ghastly. It frightens me how much I still need those things. I am a long way from coming off them yet. Anyway, I've still managed some crafting :) Here are the pics of the things I have done over the past month or so. It's been a pleasing mix of pottery painting, sewing and baking - all lovely, quick projects. The duvet project is still in the cupboard but, as Charlie is just potty trained and still wetting the bed a couple of nights per week, I don't mind them waiting until he's a little more practised. I am currently working on an embroidered note book cover that I am thoroughly enjoying because you can pick it up, to a little bit and put it down, anywhere in the house. It's nice not to be tied to the sewing machine for a change. And in another rush of blood to the head, I bought 350 metres of fabric on a whim! It's so lovely, though. A friend of a friend has closed her business and was selling it all off really cheaply, so it's an investment really. What I would absolutely love would be to be able to spend whole rafts of time alone, in my house, crafting whatever took my fancy. To have that freedom would be the most fantastic thing of all. Anyway, will keep you posted on what I intend to do - am thinking of selling some of my stuff on Ebay and Etsy - possibly making aprons and children's duvet covers etc with the new fabric. Still thinking.... on 10th February it was Daddy's birthday. We didn't want to spent too much, so Charlie and I made him a bumble bee honey cake, as he has two hives in the garden. We used the honey his bees made last year. It was using Nigella's recipe from Domestic Goddess.

Project Four - Daddy's cake


He rather likes ducks, so we made him one of those too. Charlie loved cutting up the pieces of felt and choosing the fabric for it's tummy:

Project Five - Felt Duck    



Project Six - Time for Tea I love the whole shabby chic thing, and wanted to decorate the kitchen in this way. We've have wooden panelling painted white, natural wood, sage green cupboards and lots of brightly coloured accessories that we can change for a different look whenever we fancy. I've been rather obsessed with bunting since I made our Christmas bunting. However, I've no desire to have it flapping around all the time - it's not easy on the eye, it gets dusty and, once it stretches, it dangles on your head. So I thought I would have a go at making a tea set using bunting as a motif. I've already made a teapot, 4 cups and a milk jug; I hope to do a cake stand soon.


Project Seven - Aunty Vikki's Birthday Aunty Vikki and I have an arrangement when it comes to grown up birthdays: we always buy token presents for grown ups. There really is no point in spending a fortune, it's just an acknowledgement that we think of each other and that we care. On 4th Feb it was Vik's birthday, so I made her this egg box sewing kit that I have fallen in love with. I especially love the hedgehog pin cushion, and must aim to make one of those for myself! The photography isn't great though, the focus could be better.   



Project Eight: Rachels 18th Birthday My cousin Rachel was 18 on the 15th February and I wanted to buy her something she'd keep and use on special occasions. Her Mum and Dad (Aunty Pam and Uncle Steve) bought me a lovely pearl necklace when I was 18. Unfortunately it got stolen when I was burgled back in 1998, but I still remember it vividly. I made the corsage on a pin so that Rachel can take it off if it's not to her taste, or it doesn't go with her outfit. The leaves and petals are deliberately in neutral colours so that it will go with most things she could wear.


Project Nine: Coasters for my new kitchen Well, what can I say about these? They won't be to everyone's taste but I wanted something bright and geometric. I quickly learned that geometric patterns are hard to reproduce by hand, so I had to find ways to make the wonky lines look a bit better! They are deliberately free-form: they're cheap to produce, so I wanted to experiment with colour, pattern and texture before making decisions about more expensive pieces.   


Project Ten: Oven gloves for my new kitchen What can I say? I was overcome with desire for the kitsch. They're made out of our old oven gloves that were well used, rather greasy and sad. I think I have livened them up somewhat :)


Project Eleven: Coffee time for me Having your own cup to drink from is lovely, I'm really enjoying it. Especially on my own, crafting, with the radio on.  


Project Twelve: Banana Bread After all that crafting and the hard work on the kitchen, my deserved a little treat. This is Nigella's Banana Bread from Domestic Goddess. It is by far one of the nicest cakes I have ever tasted - and I don't usually like Banana Bread. In true chaotic style, I started the cake and realised I didn't have most of the ingredients in, so a lot of improvising followed. I substituted:

  • butter for 'Utterly Butterly' and some olive oil
  • walnuts for flaked almonds
  • white sugar for light brown sugar
  • sultanas for raisins
  • Bourbon for whiskey - you couldn't taste it either way

Anyway, it was good, as the picture bears testament. It lasted a matter of moments!


Project Thirteen: Easter Presents These are for the little ones of relatives and friends. I will make some felt chicken egg cosies too. I am always really unsure about buying chocolate and sweets for other people's kids as not everyone appreciates it. I thought these might make unusual, nice keepsakes.